Linda Messmer says she likes to be an informed voter. That means she reads up on candidates and pays attention to their ad campaigns at the beginning of election season.
But Messmer says the negative ads relating to this year’s Indiana Senate race put her over the edge.
“They were just throwing mud and cow manure at each other, and I thought I don’t like this, I wanna get away from it, so any time an ad would come on with these two people I would mute my TV or turn off my TV or radio,” said Messmer.
But Messmer found even that wasn’t enough, and decided to take matters into her own hands, buying a radio spot on WAMB to send politicians a message.
“I am sick and tired of being bombarded with all the negative, hateful, mean-spirited ads. I say to all the politicians running these ads, stop it!,” said Messmer in part of the ad.
Messmer says she fears the message these negative ads are giving to the newest generation of voters.
“It’s gonna show kids, young voters, it’s gonna show a whole generation of people, boy this is how you get what you want, you don’t respect anybody, you throw mud, talk about ’em, lie about ’em,” said Messmer.
The trend of negative ads is one that ebbs and flows in the United States, but has been around for hundreds of years.
“In terms of a documented record, we have a lot from 1800, so that was John Adams was running for reelection against Thomas Jefferson, and it descended into incredible negativity,” said Dr. Chris Olsen, Dean of ISU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
And while television ads are more regulated in other countries, where there is less money spent on campaigns, that doesn’t mean negative ads aren’t circulated elsewhere.
“Television is not the only medium anymore, things are done on the Internet, and that negative advertising that makes it on television in the United States simply migrates over to the Internet in other countries,” said Dr. Terrence Casey, Professor in Rose-Hulman’s Political Science Department.
Dean Olsen says that while research shows that negative ads work, due to their easy-to-understand nature, he doesn’t want people to be discouraged about changing the current campaigning formula.
“I think it will take some sort of public response though, and will, to kind of collectively reject that style,” said Dr. Olsen.
A public response we see in Linda Messmer, whose being selective about where she puts her stamp of approval.
“The only other thing I would add is I’m Linda Messmer and I approved this interview,” said Messmer, laughing.
Dean Olsen encourages people to pay attention to the ends of political ads, where there will be a specific endorsement message if the candidate has approved the message. He says oftentimes the nastiest ads are not endorsed by a candidate, something voters should keep in mind.
Messmer is extending a challenge to Senator Joe Donnelly and Senate Candidate Mike Braun to come visit her at her home to discuss these political ads and their agendas face-to-face.
If you’d like to hear her full ad on WAMB, you can find it here.